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End harassment and persecution of Zimbabwean activists

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At a press conference attended by the media and diplomats including a representative of the Embassy of Spain, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition condemned the persecution and harassment of civil society activists.  In a speech by Mr. Pedzisai Ruhanya, the Coalition demanded that the Government of National Unity brings to end the persecution.

Cases in point included that of Farai Maguyu, the director of Mutare based Centre for Research and Development (CRD). Mr Runanya said Mr. Maguyu handed himself to the police on the 3rd of June, after his family members and fellow CRD employees were severely threatened and harassed by state security agents. It is believed that Mr. Maguyu is being accused of publishing or communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state in contravention of section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Mr. Maguyu is said to have had a meeting with the Kimberly Process Monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane discussing human rights abuses and smuggling of diamonds from Marange.

The Coalition said that Mr. Maguyu was arrested in Mutare and transferred to Harare without any known reason, and was detained by the police for over 48 hours before trial, a period which is beyond the legal limit of detention before court trial. The Coalition views this detention as a punishment being put on Mr. Maguyu for “…exposing injustice and for speaking out for the oppressed people of Marange.” The Crisis also believes that the government is “…aware that Mr. Maguyu is supposed to travel to Israel later in June to give evidence at the Kimberly process plenary regarding abuses in Marange.”

The Coalition called upon the Kimberly process to order an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this arrest. The Coalition further warned the government that the world is following the development of this case and will not be silent about it. Mr. Ruhanya further warned the state against any further harm to Mr. Maguwu.

The Coalition saluted the CRD staff members who are reported to be still in hiding and promised to be firm in support of Mr. Maguyu whose arrest, they say, is unwarranted interference with his liberty and is not in recognition of Mr. Maguyu’s basic human rights.

The Coalition also expressed deep concern over the resurgence of attacks and harassment of civil society organization and activists. Citing various cases such as Mrs Getrude Hambira, the Vice Chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Secretary General of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union (GAPWUZ) who was forced to flee Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) director Okay Machisa who was arrested in line with a photo exhibition, and lastly the case of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) employees who were reportedly tortured in police custody and later granted bail.

The Coalition further called for a complete overhaul of the government system “…to ensure that the judiciary, public prosecutors and state security agents are non-partisan, independent, impartial and professional.”

During the conference news arrived that Mr. Maguyu was finally brought to court on the 8th of June 2010, and the state was opposing a bail application by Mr. Maguyu’s lawyer.

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